A crisis can happen at any moment. When it does, organizations need to be prepared to act quickly and communicate with their employees, customers and other stakeholders.
Use this checklist along with your detailed crisis communications plan to guide your team through your next crisis situation.
1. Identify an emerging crisis.
Does the impending situation:
- Pose a threat to your brand’s reputation?
- Have the potential to cause a loss of trust in your organization?
- Put the health, safety or livelihood of your employees, customers, partners, vendors or other stakeholders at risk?
2. Notify your crisis team.
Be sure to include relevant details about the situation:
- Who is involved?
- What is at stake?
- What is the status of the crisis? Is it an emerging situation? Is the immediate threat active or contained?
3. Communicate with stakeholders.
Disseminate your messages through the appropriate channels. Consider the following:
- Personal phone calls can reassure big clients or board members, helping you maintain close, important relationships.
- Identify the most effective way of reaching your stakeholders, considering their preferred method of communication.
4. Develop your communications.
Begin developing messaging for your different audiences. Generally, you will need the following:
- Internal statement
- External statements (customer/client communications, website message, etc.)
- Media statement
- Social media post
5. Review your messages.
Run your drafted messages through your chain of approval:
- Executive decision-makers
- Legal team
- Communications team
6. Monitor media and social media.
Set up real-time media and social media monitoring to track mentions on keywords related to the crisis.
- Pay attention to what is being said and reported to monitor public sentiment.
- Track the status of the crisis and respond accordingly.
7. Correct misinformation — the right way.
If you see media reports or social media comments that are objectively wrong (as in, figures or statistics have been misreported), you can do something about it.
- Reach out to the reporter and explain the inaccuracy. If there is a factual error, you can ask that a correction be made.
- On social media, be polite and gracious when pointing our any inaccuracies. Back up your statements with sources. Invite the poster to take the conversation offline to discuss the issue further.
8. Assess and respond.
After initial communication, assess the situation:
- Check scheduled social media posts to see if they are still appropriate in the current environment.
- Are people still talking? Find out why and see how you can communicate to address their concerns.
9. Evaluate and learn.
After the crisis is contained, conduct a debriefing with your team:
- What was effective? Where does your communication need to improve?
- Incorporate these insights into your crisis communications plan.